Tuesday, October 17, 2006

Happy Chocolate Week! Who would have thought that there were World Chocolate Awards and an Academy of Chocolate, but there you go. Clearly other people take chocolate just as seriously as I do so I should need no excuse to appreciate more of it!

The ever marvellous National Trust is spearheading a "history matters" campaign and today is the day! A massive online blog project - "One Day in History." The idea is to upload your blog for the day onto their site as a recorded moment of the nation's history. Describe your day and reflect on the importance of history in it. Not a new idea, but a nifty one.The Sunday Times carried an article on this which noted interestingly:
According to Technorati, a blog search engine, there are at least 57m blogs around the world which are regularly updated — and the “blogosphere” is doubling in size every six months. A third of blogs are written in English, a third in Japanese, 15% in Chinese and the remainder in other languages.
I must draw your attention to BookMooch. Started in August, it currently has 100 thousand members and has redistributed 20 thousand books across the world via mooches. I am now a fully fledged member of BookMooch, having mooched one book myself, and sent one out yesterday to a fellow moocher. I first heard about this site on Of Books and Bicycles, and it has started to spread across many of the American book-related blogs. I suspect the trickle is about to become a flood, with other countries joining in.

If you browse books by country it is rather fascinating. Americans list 53756 books, and the UK a surprisingly low 5883 (although this is perhaps because the site is not so well-known here yet). Armenia, Ecuador, Slovenia, and Vietnam have 1 book listed each. India lists 162, while Pakistan only has 8. African moochers live in Egypt, Gambia, and Niger. This seems quite extraordinary as South Africa has the largest book buying public on the continent, and countries like Nigeria, Tanzania and Kenya have large publishing industries, yet none of these countries are represented yet - it will be fascinating to see how this site develops.

Now that I have tried it out myself and found it working well, I can highly recommend it. The idea is that you post titles you no longer want, receiving points for doing so. You can then use these points to "purchase" or rather mooch other people's unwanted books. No money changes hands. If you despatch a book you receive points towards further mooches, thus covering in effect the cost of postage. The great thing about this for book lovers of course is that not only do you recycle books no longer needed, but new books arrive that you've always wanted!

Critics may argue that this takes away from author and publisher earnings but I really don't think so. The secondhand book market has always flourished alongside mainstream bookshops, and this is no different. In the same week as I mooched a book and sent one off to a fellow moocher, I purchased two books at full price from my local independent bookshop, one a gift and one for me. Nothing changes - readers are readers, and those lucky enough to have the disposable income to buy new books will always buy more (unable to resist the lure!)


Blogger Dorothy W. said...

Obviously I agree about Book Mooch -- those numbers about the countries that participate are fascinating.

12:01 pm  
Anonymous Danielle said...

Must eat some chocolate in celebration of Chocolate Week! That shouldn't be too hard! :) I found Bookmooch via Dorothy, too, and am very addicted to it. Interesting facts and figures! I think I spread my book buying around pretty well, so I don't feel too guilty about getting a second hand book!

5:34 pm  
Blogger Lisa Guidarini said...

I signed up for Book Mooch but haven't done anything more with it. It's sheer lack of time, really, as is my problem with most things I don't get around to doing. But it sounds like a fantastic thing. Can you even find more obscure titles? I need titles other than the popular bestsellers. I really should investigate more thoroughly. It's on my list!

1:41 pm  
Anonymous Ann said...

Found you, via The Bluestalking Reader. Thank you for coming over to my blog. I'll add you to my visiting list and come over regularly, but not if you persist in blogging about chocolate! I am allergic to it. I love it, but it really does not love me. One of my best friends lives within walking distance of the main Cadbury's factory and when the wind is in the right direction, I won't visit her; the smell is just heart-breaking.

3:46 pm  
Blogger equiano said...

Dorothy - you're clearly an excellent BookMooch evangelist!

Danielle - judging from your blog descriptions of interesting bookbuying forays, I think mainstream book retailing is doing just fine! :)
Enjoy that chocolate...

Lisa - I think the specialist/obscure market is yet to be extensively seen on BookMooch (maybe because people can sell them for a profit on Amazon and ebay?), but having said that, the title I mooched was not popular fiction, and the book I sent out was a VERY dense academic treatise, so there's scope for future development.

Ann - a chocolate allergy?! Sounds excruciating, I don't know how you manage to restrain yourself, although come to think of it, perhaps your friend has the right idea and living downwind from Cadburys might desensitize one! Just another smell on the breeze, like freshly mown hay.

10:59 pm  
Anonymous Helen said...

Hello - I am Ann's friend who can walk our of her front door and smell the chocolate!! It is lovely and smelling often substitutes for eating which is better for the waistline, teeth and of course for allergy sufferers - Ann: you should come and smell the chocolate! I had already noted your comment on Ann's site because of your name. I was teaching a module this morning which begins with looking at an extract from Olaudah Equiano's autobiography. I wrote my thesis on African Women's fiction so am interested to come across someone else with an interest in African fiction. I am a regular visitor to the African Books Collective Website (and spend too much money on books there!).

12:46 pm  
Blogger equiano said...

Welcome, Helen. Very good to meet others with an interest in African fiction - what was your thesis about/who did it look at? The African Books Collective brings lots of hard-to-find titles into the country - I know them well from when I used to run the Africa Book Centre and sold all their lists - good people.

Clearly, I need to move near a chocolate factory, if just smelling it daily is a good substitution for eating it! I can never resist good chocolate...

7:04 am  
Anonymous Helen said...

I worked on women's fiction across the continent. My main authors were Yvonne Vera and Lindsey Collen but I also looked at work by Ama Ata Aidoo (I love her writing; it is so tongue in cheek!), Buchi Emecheta, Bessie Head as well as some 'one offs' mainly bought from ABC. I was looking at the way these authors write about violence against women and seeing how this might lead to a feminist position on women's position in society. It was quite a girm topic at times so I did eat quite a lot of chocolate whilst writing it. I have recently been getting back into reading African Women's work but mainly new books by favourite authors so if you know if any new and exciting writers do let me know! I must go and scour the ABC lists again!

9:58 am  
Blogger equiano said...

Helen - that sounds really interesting. New women's fiction I'd have a look at Tsitsi Dangarembga (THE BOOK OF NOT - although her earlier book NERVOUS CONDITIONS is where I'd start with her as it's fantastic), Chimamanda Ngozi Adichie (her latest is HALF OF A YELLOW SUN, although again I'd start with her first PURPLE HIBISCUS). Leila Aboulela's MINARET recently out in paperback and although it isn't new, the Heinemann anthology OPENING SPACES: AN ANTHOLOGY OF CONTEMPORARY AFRICAN WOMEN'S WRITING edited by Yvonne Vera has a really interesting and wide-ranging selection. other newies to look out for Helen Oyeyemi, Delia Jarrett-Macauley, Doreen Baingana.

Older titles with your interests Darko's THE HOUSEMAID should be a winner; then there's Assia Djebar, Doris Lessing, Mariama Ba...

9:46 pm  

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